Vice President of Winemaking
“After nearly 30 years of experience, I’m inspired to be bold and take chances. I have leaned into my knowledge and enjoy challenging convention. I want to create exciting wines for people to enjoy. ”
Katie Nelson became interested in wine starting at a young age sitting around her Italian grandparent’s kitchen table on Sunday afternoons.
“I noticed how wine brought people together with plenty of laughter and good food to go around for everyone. I loved how vibrant life felt in those moments.”
During her time at Sonoma State University, Katie signed up for an Enology class on a whim. She was struck by the ability to merge agriculture, chemistry, art, hard work, and luck of the vintage into a bottle of wine. She quickly changed her major to Chemistry with an Enology emphasis within the week.
She landed her first winery job as a crush intern in Healdsburg, California shortly after her 21st birthday and became hooked.
In 1999, Katie moved to Washington where she began her career as an Enologist at Ste. Michelle Wines Estates. She left briefly in 2015 only to return in 2018 as Senior Director of Winemaking for Innovation and Head Winemaker of Columbia Crest and H3. She now serves as the Vice President of Winemaking for Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Regarding her personal winemaking philosophy, Katie says it’s evolved over the years.
“In the beginning, I was focused on precision and what I deemed as correct winemaking. After nearly 30 years of experience, I’m inspired to be bold and take chances. I have leaned into my knowledge and enjoy challenging convention. I want to create exciting wines for people to enjoy. Science is a wonderful tool, but wine is ultimately judged by the palate, nose and emotions of the consumer. That is the art of winemaking.”
For Katie, there is no better place to make wine than Washington state. She says, “Nowhere else in the world is there as much diversity in varietals as Washington. We have it all in just a few hours in every direction. It’s an honor to help build the momentum for Washington wines and find their place on the world stage.”
Katie holds a bachelor’s in chemistry and pre-enology focus from Sonoma State University and earned her WSET Level III certificate in 2016. She lives in Prosser with her husband Flint, who is also a winemaker, and their two children.